Fingerprints the clincher

Wind blew wig off robber at Vista's BBVA Compass bank

Paul Ryan Owens. Judge ordered defendant's face not be shown.
  • Paul Ryan Owens. Judge ordered defendant's face not be shown.

A woman said she was working behind the counter at a bank in Vista, two years ago, when a man put a bag onto her countertop and said, “Give me all your money.” The bank teller testified at a preliminary hearing in San Diego’s North County Superior court on Wednesday, August 1, 2018.

BBVA Compass Bank. Bank employees had walked past a man who appeared asleep inside his Toyota 4Runner in the bank’s lot.

BBVA Compass Bank. Bank employees had walked past a man who appeared asleep inside his Toyota 4Runner in the bank’s lot.

The teller said she “froze,” and the man put one hand onto his hip and said, “Give me your money, I have a gun” and “You want to keep everyone safe.” The witness said she never saw a gun.

The man was disguised with a long-haired wig and dark sunglasses and a fedora hat, according to testimony. However, the teller said that after she stuffed $8,000 into the bag and the man left the bank, a sudden gust of wind blew off his hat and wig and she was able to get a good look at his face.

Earlier that same day, other bank employees had walked past a man who appeared asleep inside his Toyota 4Runner, after he backed his car into a spot in the bank’s lot, according to testimony.

In court this week, different bank employees identified defendant Paul Owens as the man who was first seen asleep in the parking lot, and then inside at the counter, robbing a teller.

Paul Ryan Owens, 39, denied he was the one who robbed the BBVA Compass bank on December 14, 2015.

The bank teller said the robber also showed her a handwritten note which said GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY, and then he quickly covered that note with a BBVA Compass magazine which he apparently had picked up in their lobby.

(Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentina is an international bank which owns BBVA Compass, an obscure collection of banks and insurance companies with branches here in the United States.)

San Diego County Sheriff’s detective Mark Paquette responded to the BBVA Compass bank located at 961 South Santa Fe Avenue in Vista. The detective said he was able to recover the magazine handled by the robber and send it to the Sheriff’s crime lab. One fingerprint was found and entered into AFIS, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System; a match popped up months later, in March 2016.

Remarks by attorneys indicated that the FBI was first going to handle prosecution of this case, as a bank robbery, but that changed.

Prosecutor Min Yoon charged Owens with one count of felony robbery. Moon alleged this is a three-strikes case, declaring that Owens has convictions in San Diego County since 1998, when he was 19 years old. Some of the alleged prior convictions include another robbery when he was 22 years old; plus grand theft, stolen vehicle, possession of meth for sale, making criminal threat, burglary, and stolen vehicle.

Owens is held without bail and is next due in San Diego’s North County Superior courthouse on August 15, 2018.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


It's about 99.99% sure than when a bank robber says he has a gun, but doesn't show it, there is NO gun. The robbers know that armed robbery will get them a longer sentence, or they could get shot. Most of these crimes would go away if the tellers could say something like: "We are not allowed to hand over any money, unless you show the gun."

Very amusing; I doubt that step will ever be part of the procedures for dealing with stickups. When we were kids, most banks had a customer lobby that was walled off from the interior of the bank, and the teller windows had bars on them. That all was done to make the operation more secure from robbery. But then modern thinking came along, and banks opened up their buildings and didn't have tellers physically separated from the public. Hence there have been more robberies since then.

In this narrative, one thing is missing. The banks and credit union branches now all seem to have a security guard, and wearing shades into the bank is a no-no. Does BBVA have security guards? The usual approach is for the guard to politely ask the patron to remove the shades, and in so doing he/she can get a good look at the customer. All that makes it unlikely that anyone in disguise will try a robbery. And when one does, the video cam gets a good image of the robber.

Well, it wasn't meant to be amusing. I was serious. That is what I would do as a teller if the nervous nutjob druggie said: "I have a gun." Of course, I would be fired afterward for not following bank policy.

Oh, and the def has some cool neck tats. All the better to identify him, I'm certain.

Log in to comment

Skip Ad